If the thought of doing a road trip without a mobile phone seems impossible, I can assure you that it is not.
It's true, we weren't totally without communication. Andrea had a phone that we could use to call. And at night when we found free wi-fi, then I could upload pictures to Instagram and check Facebook.
But when it came to connecting to the internet on the open road? We did without. Some things are easier than others. No Instagram, no Facebook, no news feeds, no weather updates? Whatever. No GPS? Well, we made due with the sat-nav in our car, however imperfect it was.
Yes, you may get lost on some wandering road trying to follow directions to "find the last estate at the end of the road" not knowing you should be looking for a subdivision at the top of the hill.
And yes, you may not know if you are driving to a ferry terminal where there may possibly not be a ferry at all.
That was our dilemma as we drove from the Cliffs of Moher to Dingle.
You may not be able to tell from this map, but a common route from Cliffs of Moher to Dingle is to head east through Limerick, then southwest to Dingle. We decided to head due south after our morning at the cliffs towards Kilrush. Somewhere in my Lonely Planet Guidebook I had read about a ferry that crossed the River Shannon, and we just thought that sounded like a better idea than going the other way.
It was a gamble, because if we missed the final ferry--or if there actually wasn't a ferry at all--then we would have to drive a long ways to get back on track, but what's a good road trip without a little by-the-seat-of-our-pants unpredictability. It is what people used to do back in the days of not having cell phones. They just figured it out along the way.
We got to Killimer at 6:10 where we saw the 6:05 ferry just departing for the other side. We missed it by minutes. Fortunately! There was ONE MORE ferry! Oh happy day!
We took advantage of the hour we had to wait and had dinner at The Olde Brogue Bar (which apparently has little to no online presence, but it exists and it's worth going to). I'm sure it gets tons of business in the summer when the ferry is busy. As it was, we were the only ones there and got to visit with the woman running it. It was just as cozy and delicious as could be.
We enjoyed a pint by a fire with nothing to do but wait. Loved it.
Then onto the ferry and across the Shannon River...
The woman at the restaurant told us we'd be driving into Dingle in a couple hours, so we wasted no time and started driving.
We were trying to get to the west coast to see the sun set into the ocean, but it didn't happen. So we drove down some side road to catch the view we had, and then I hopped out and snapped this picture. If you imagine a small terrier dog barking madly behind you while its owner yells at it to stop, you get the full effect. Tranquility on the Irish shore at its finest.
We finally drive into Dingle, a town that by all accounts is darling and friendly and amazing music. All these things are true, but--and this is where I reveal the limits to my adventurous spirit--I was mildly distracted by a new lodging experience. I had looked at various places on Trip Advisor and saw a good review for a hostel. Specifically, the review said the place was more like a bed & breakfast because you got your own room. Sounded good to me.
Andrea regularly stays in hostels, so she knew what to expect. I had never before, and honestly, this place would have been just fine if it had not been for one small thing I wasn't prepared for: we had roommates in our room.
They were nice kids from Germany, and having spent the whole day on the road themselves, they were heading to bed even earlier than we were. But it was a bit of surprise for me.
Fortunately, the hostel was in a great location, so per the advice of my guidebook and the guy running the hostel, we walked down to a pub that had live music, An Droichead Beag.
The music was fabulous. We had to sit in a backroom for a few minutes because it was crowded, but we used the time to plan our itinerary for the next day. Eventually the room cleared a bit, and we found a spot at the table where a nice woman offered to teach us a basic Irish dance.
We took off our shoes, grabbed her hand, and 1-2-3-4-5-6-7, 1-2-3, 1-2-3, there we were dancing in a pub in Ireland.
Yes, so maybe I was staying in a hostel with roommates in an overheated room where the beds were uncomfortable and the bathroom door wouldn't shut all the way, but I couldn't have written a more perfect ending to this day. It was everything an adventure should be, from breathtaking vistas, to stumbling upon a tiny restaurant waiting for the day's last ferry, to jigs in a pub in a tiny town on the coast of Ireland.
Thank you, Dingle.
It was sweet, indeed.